Carole M. Cusack is a professor of religious studies at the University of Sydney. She researches contemporary religious trends (pilgrimage and tourism).
When a Machine Becomes an Artist
If a machine is programmed to create art on its own, who gets the credit?
When artificial intelligence has been used to create works of art, a human artist has always exerted a significant element of control over the creative process. But what if a machine were programmed to create art on its own, with little to no human involvement? What if it were the primary creative force in the process? And if it were to create something novel, engaging and moving, who should get credit for this work?
At Rutgers’ Art & AI Lab, we created AICAN, a
The Importance of the Latest Netflix Dystopia
1983 is an alternative history that bears disturbing resemblance to contemporary politics.
Popular culture is full of alternative histories. Mackinley Kantor wrote a famous article in Look magazine in 1960 about what would have happened if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America imagines a world where Charles Lindbergh beats FDR in the 1940 elections and ushers fascism into the United States. And The Man in the High Castle, an Amazon series based on the Philip K. Dick novel, depicts a terrifying scenario in which the Axis powers have won World War
The US Wants an “Honorable Withdrawal” from Afghanistan
As the US seeks an urgent withdrawal, there will not be durable peace in Afghanistan, nor a dignified exit for America.
John Bolton, the current US national security adviser, once wrote: “[Barack] Obama is pursuing ideological, not geopolitical, objectives.” If it was true about President Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia back in 2011, it is also true about President Donald Trump’s foreign policy today.
Perhaps the confusion between geopolitics and ideology led to policy inconsistency in these regions. For example, look at the US narrative. In 1998, Pakistan was “the most dangerous country
Are US Sanctions Losing their Clout?
Washington’s frequent use of economic sanctions for all matter of offenses could end up diminishing their utility over the long term and empowering bad actors.
Washington’s latest round of sanctions on Iran’s primary hard currency earner will be felt not only by the Iranian government, but also by Iranians. Previous sanctions, imposed after Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, had already begun to
Saudi Unemployment Statistics Spell a Troubled Vision 2030
Most of the new employment that Vision 2030 is supposed to create needs to come from the private sector.
Two years and counting into the radical transformation of the Saudi economy known as Vision 2030, a key component of the strategy — to empower the private sector and significantly reduce unemployment — remains stalled. Figures recently released by the government show the unemployment rate remaining at 12.9%, a stubbornly high and alarming number given that roughly 60% of the population is under 30. Youth unemployment is running at 25%, and the so-called youth bulge continues to grow exponentially.
Which Rules Does Mohammed bin Salman Follow?
In the new rules-based disorder, every leader has the power to define the rules they prefer. The Daily Devil’s Dictionary explains.
Since Donald Trump’s election and his performance as US president, many commentators, including members of Trump’s own team, have expressed regret about the weakening of what was traditionally and even officially called the “rules-based international order.” Trump has consistently shocked his allies with his refusal to recognize any rules other than those he imagines himself and articulates in the form of 3 am tweets.
This includes attributing blame to those who don’t respect his rules, as when
Taliban Attacks on Hazara Communities Raise Fear of Mass Atrocities
Afghanistan’s Hazara community is caught between attacks by Taliban and Islamic State militants, and neglect by the government.
It started with a Facebook post: “I can’t bear it anymore. I am going out. Will you join me?” Within an hour, by midnight local time on November 11, hundreds took to the streets and passed security barricades to march toward Afghanistan’s presidential Arg Palace. Desperate and angry, the protesters, including many women, demanded action against Taliban attacks on the Hazara communities in Ghazni and Uruzgan provinces. Tragically, the protest itself was brought to an end by a suicide attack claimed
Welcome to the Ultimate Escape Room
For some, the slowness with which the international community is addressing climate change is yet more proof that humans have outlived their evolutionary usefulness.
The midterm elections are over and the Democrats have regained the House, but the rest of American political reality remains intact. Meanwhile, the campaigns barely touched on the most important issues of our time: war, climate change and the fracturing of the international community. So, let’s consider these larger issues from a different angle.
Let’s step from the voting booth into a different space altogether: an escape room. This is, however, no ordinary escape room like
Actor Viggo Mortensen Uses a Word He Shouldn’t Use
What happens when concern about racism is focused on policing the words that antiracist people use, rather than the acts of actual racists?
Americans have a serious and complex problem with the notion of free speech. While everyone accepts the dogma that freedom of expression is an absolute right enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution, more and more Americans appear to find some types of speech illicit, if not downright reprehensible. One approach to condemning other people’s speech — the one preferred by Donald Trump’s White House — consists of crying, “fake news.” Another, which most people associate